Old-fashioned Date Pudding

Date Pudding

I recently came across a cookbook published in 1923 called The Calorie Cook Book. In the Introduction it says:

This book has been made for the use of those people who wish to eat properly and really don’t know how. . .

We Americans have bolted and stuffed rich food for so long that it is amazing how very few of us know how to stop or what to do, when the family physician, treacherously upheld by our own inner selves, demands a change in the catch-as-catch-can style of eating we have so long enjoyed.

Based on the title and the book’s introduction, I assumed that the recipes would be for healthy low-calorie foods. But the first page I flipped to proved that my assumption was wrong:

Date Pudding Recipe
Source: The Calorie Book (1923) by Mary Dickerson Donahey

The recipe for Date Pudding said it was delicious, but that reducers should be beware. The recipe was not for them. I was intrigued. The author must think that a recipe is really good when deciding to put a high-calorie recipe in a low-calorie cookbook. So, before I knew it, I decided to ignore the warning and make Date Pudding.

The Date Pudding was delightful. Beaten egg whites gave the pudding a nice texture, and the dates and walnuts blended nicely for just the right balance of sweetness and crunchiness. I served the Date Pudding with whipped cream, which made it even more delicious and decadent.

This recipe called for “English walnuts” to distinguish them from “black walnuts.” Today, English walnuts are generally just called walnuts.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Date Pudding

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 eggs, separated

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup dates, chopped

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups milk

whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg whites in a mixing bowl; beat until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Put sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, egg yolks, and milk in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Fold in the beaten egg whites, and then gently stir in the chopped dates and walnuts. Put the mixture in an 8″ X 8″ square baking dish. Put in oven and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (approximately 50 minutes – 1 hour). Remove from oven. May be served warm or cold. If desired serve with whipped cream.


Cauliflower Mousselaine

Cauliflowre Mousselaine

When flipping through a hundred-year-old cookbook I was intrigued by a recipe for Cauliflower Mousselaine, and decided to give it a try.

The cauliflower was embedded in a creamy, sunny, lemony sauce with a hint of nutmeg. I was surprised that the lemon in sauce predominated over the cauliflower, but it was delightful. This recipe has gourmet feel to it, and is an unusual flavor combination, but I’d make it again.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Cauliflower Mousselaine
Source: The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cauliflower Mousselaine

  • Servings: 3 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 head cauliflower, separated into florets (about 3 cups florets)

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons butter

Put cauliflower florets in a saucepan, and cover with water. Put on stove, and bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Put in serving bowl.

In the meantime, make the sauce by putting the egg yolks, heavy cream, salt, nutmeg, and lemon juice in a saucepan; stir until thoroughly combined and smooth. Cook, using medium heat, while stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Add the butter – a few small pieces at a time – while continuing to stir. When the butter is melted, pour the sauce over the cauliflower.


Old-fashioned Fried Celery

Fried Celery

It was more popular to serve celery as a stand-alone vegetable a hundred years ago than it is now. One way of serving it back then was to bread the celery, and then fry it.

When I made this recipe, I struggled to get the bread crumbs to stay on the celery – and the breading was very uneven – though it tasted fine.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Fried Celery
Source: General Welfare Guild Cook Book(Beaver Valley General Hospital, New Brighton, Pennsylvania, 1923)

I used paper towels instead of cheese cloth to dry the celery.

Fried Celery

  • Servings: 3 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 bunch celery


1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup fine bread crumbs

shortening, lard, or other fat

Wash celery and cut into 4-pieces; dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the celery pieces with salt, then dip in beaten eff, and then roll in the bread crumbs.

Heat 1-inch of fat in large skillet. Put the breaded celery in the heated fat, and fry until the breading is brown and the celery tender; remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.


Old-fashioned Loaf Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Loaf Cake

When browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook published by a shrine patrol in Rochester New York, I saw a recipe for Loaf Chocolate Cake, and decided to give it a try. This recipe is a winner. The recipe was easy to make, and the loaf cake was soft and moist, and had just the right amount of sweetness. (I prefer cakes that aren’t overly sweet).

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Chocolate Loaf Cake
Source: Cook Book published by Bethany Shrine Patrol No. 1, Rochester, NY (1923)

A hundred-years-ago milk often was not pasteurized. Back then, if the non-pasteurized milk was not used quickly, the “good” bacteria in the milk would turn it into a sour milk suitable for use in recipes. Today’s pasteurized milk can be turned into a sour milk by adding a little vinegar.

In 1923, squares of baking chocolate were typically 1-ounce. Today they are often 1/2 ounce, so 4 squares rather than 2 may be needed.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Loaf Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 cups flour

2 eggs

2 1-ounce squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted (Many brands of baking chocolate have squares smaller than 1 ounce, so more than 2 squares may be needed.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a large loaf pan (9″ X 5″) or use two smaller ones.

Put the milk in a cup or bowl, then stir in the vinegar. Set aside for at least 2 minutes to allow milk to sour.

Put brown sugar, butter, flour, eggs, melted chocolate, baking soda, vanilla, and the soured milk in a mixing bowl; stir to combine. Add boiling water; beat until smooth than put in loaf pan. Bake 1 hour 10 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (The time would be less if two smaller pans are used.)


Old-Fashioned Lemon Crumb Pie

Slice of Lemon Crumb PieWhen browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook, I came across a recipe for Lemon Crumb Pie.

Recipe for Lemon Crumb Pie
Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1923)

I was intrigued by the statement that the recipe author has used this recipe for 38 years. Even though all recipes I make for this blog are old, this one seemed particularly old-fashioned and called for using bread soaked in water to help thicken the pie filling.

The pie turned out well, and is very similar to Lemon Meringue Pie. I never would have guessed that there was bread in the baked pie. There’s something to be said for recipes that have been made (and maybe refined) over the course of 38 years .

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Lemon Crumb Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 slice bread torn into small pieces (about 1 cup)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

Grated rind of 1 lemon

2 egg yolks

dash salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 8-inch (small) pie shell


2 egg whites

2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put bread pieces and water in a mixing bowl and let soak for 20 minutes. Then add sugar, lemon juice, grated lemon rind, egg yolks, salt, and melted butter; beat until combined. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake until the mixture is hot and bubbly and thickened (about 30 – 35 minutes). Watch pie closely because the filling will easily boil over.

To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in the sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the baked pie, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.



1923 Kraft Cheese Advertisement (with Recipe for Spinach Timbales)

Spinach Timbale on plateA full-page advertisement in a 1923 issue of Ladies Home Journal  for Kraft Cheese piqued my interest.  It contained a recipe for Spinach Timbales. From time to time I see timbale recipes in hundred-year-old magazines and cookbooks. Timbales back then were creamy vegetable or meat mixtures that were put into individual molds and baked.

The advertisement made the claim that Spinach Timbales were tasty and so nutritious they they could be considered a prescription. With a claim like that – and, an attention-grabbing image of the timbales – I decided this was a must-try recipe.

Kraft Cheese Advertisement
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1923)

My Spinach Timbales didn’t look like the ones in the old advertisement, though I tend to think that they were more visually appealing than the ones in the old drawing (but I could be prejudiced since I made them). The Timbales were tasty, and reminded me a little of Spinach Souffle.

I used custard cups as the mold when I made this recipe since I don’t have timbale molds. I’m actually not even sure what a timbale mold is — though based on the drawing in the advertisement, I think that it may be narrower and higher than a custard cup.

I finely chopped the cheddar cheese when I made this recipe to try to get a similar look to the drawing – though the cheese melted when I baked the timbales and didn’t stay as small chunks, so shredded or grated cheese would work just fine.

The old recipe didn’t include a recipe for the cheese sauce, so to make it, I just made a white sauce and added cheese to it.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spinach Timbales

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups cooked spinach, chopped (I used 2 cups frozen spinach that I briefly cooked.)

2 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoons salt

dash pepper

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded, grated, or cut fine

cheese sauce (see below)

1 hard-boiled egg, sliced

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put egg yolks, milk, butter, salt, and pepper into a mixing bowl; beat until combined. Stir in the cheddar cheese and spinach.

In the meantime, put the egg whites in another bowl and beat until soft peaks form.

Fold the beaten egg whites into the spinach and cheese mixture.  Spoon into greased custard cups. Place the custard cups in a pan with hot water that comes to about an inch below the top of the cups. Bake for 30 – 40  minutes or until a knife inserted in center of the mixture comes out clean.

Remove Spinach Timbales from custard cups after baking.

To serve:  Spoon some of the cheese sauce onto plate. Set timbales in the cheese sauce. Top each timbale with an slice of the hard-boiled egg.

Cheese Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

1 cup milk

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

In a saucepan , melt butter using medium heat; then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually, add the milk while stirring constantly. Add cheese, and continue stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens.


Old-fashioned Nut Pastry Rolls

Nut Pastry Rolls on plate

When I make a pie, I often have left-over scraps of pastry dough, so I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Nut Pastry Rolls. These rolls are made by rolling out pastry dough (and it works fine to re-roll left-over pastry dough scraps), cutting it into rectangles, then spreading with jelly and sprinkling with chopped pecans, and rolling like a jelly roll and baking.

The Nut Pastry Rolls turned out well, looked attractive, and were tasty.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Nut Pastry Rolls
Source: Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

“Paste” is an archaic term for pastry dough that was commonly used in recipe books a hundred years ago.

When I updated the recipe, I listed ingredient amounts for making approximately 10 rolls – though this is an extremely flexible recipe and the amounts can be adjusted based on the number made.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Nut Pastry Rolls

  • Servings: approximately 10 rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
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pie pastry for a 1-shell pie (or use scraps of pastry dough left-over after making a pie crust)

1/4 cup jelly (I used currant jelly.)

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pie pastry into a rectangle 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3 X 5 inch rectangles. Spread jelly on the rectangles, then sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Roll each piece as for a jelly roll, then place seam side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes (or until lightly browned).